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Leadership Insights & Tips from Today’s Most Influential Church Leaders! From the fastest-growing online resource for church leaders, the 2012 ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 features the year’s most popular and helpful articles, ideas, and how-tos from leading voices in the church. Whether you are a pastor, lead worship, work with young people, reach out to the community, or lead a small group, this year-in-review collection will encourage and challenge you and your ministry team.

TOP 1OO The ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 gives you insights and guidance from:

Become a more effective leader with help from this one-of-a-kind leadership resource! ChurchLeaders.com offers more than 10,000 articles, how-tos, videos, and other free resources with more than 500 contributors from the church leader community.

2012 Edition

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Andy Stanley on why leaders must guard their hearts Kevin DeYoung on what really makes a church grow (and what doesn’t) Bill Hybels on hearing the Spirit’s whispers Francis Chan on not being a “good Christian” Perry Noble on serving the staff and volunteers you lead Craig Groeschel on the elements of a successful small group Thom Rainer on the secrets of healthy churches Tony Evans on why God isn’t blessing the American Church Greg Stier on equipping teens to share their faith Steven Furtick on the benefits of risky leadership


ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 Copyright © 2011 Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission from the authors, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. Outreach, Inc., Vista CA 92081, Outreach.com All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. ISBN: 978-1-9355-4150-9 Editor: Brian Orme Assistant Editor: Toni Ridgaway Cover and Interior Design: Tim Downs and Alexia Garaventa Contributing Editors: Terrace Crawford, Alan Danielson, Ray Hollenbach, Melissa Riddle-Chalos, Scott Williams Printed in the United States of America


Contents PART 1

Personal Growth & Leadership 14 16 19 22 23 28 30 32 34 39 41

The State of Heart Leadership by Andy Stanley Are You an Aquarium-Keeping Leader? by Steven Furtick Why We Need to Throw Out the Term “Good Christian” by Francis Chan 7 Ways to Maintain Respect as a Leader by Ron Edmondson Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Accountability by Mike Foster 11 Ways You Can Serve the People You Lead by Perry Noble How Should We Measure Spiritual Growth? by Sarah Cunningham 8 Things Pastors and Leaders Should Do on Facebook by Paul Steinbrueck The Problem with Pastors as Rock Stars by Ed Stetzer The Gift of Rejection by Ben Arment What Makes a Great Leader? by Charles Lee PART 2

Church Leadership 46 50 52 53 56 57 59 61 63 67 69

3 Unspoken Promises Leaders Make by Hal Seed Are You Leading from the Front? by Greg Stier 7 Habits of Behind-the-Back Leadership by Ron Edmondson Why the Bible Is a Tough Book for Americans by Don Miller Who Are You Going to Offend? by Mark Batterson The Foundation of Leadership by Scott Williams 4 Kinds of Vision Idolatry by Will Mancini Are You Too Nice As a Leader? by Ron Edmondson What Every Pastor Should Know Before They Start by Mark Batterson 15 Gut-Check Questions for Leaders by Perry Noble Escape from the Turtle Cage by Mike Foster PART 3

Preaching & Teaching 72 76 78 82 87

4 Steps from Good to Great Preaching by Kent Anderson Making the Message Memorable by Larry Osborne 6 Tips for Preaching to a Hard Audience by R. Larry Moyer 7 Questions to Ask Before You Preach by Francis Chan Megachurches, Growth, and the Art of Pastoring: A ChurchLeaders.com Q & A with Eugene Peterson


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5 Purposes of Preaching by David Padfield The Importance of Moving People by Steven Furtick 5 Reasons to Preach the Tough Stuff of Prophecy by Hal Seed Why Preparing Sermons Takes Me So Long by Joe McKeever 4 Essentials to a Great Sermon by Artie Davis 5 Keys to Sticky Preaching by Larry Osborne PART 4

Church Growth 112 115 117 120 124 127 130 132 135 141 142 150

7 Secrets of Healthy Churches by Thom Rainer It’s Probably Not the Worship Style by Kevin DeYoung 3 Kinds of Church Complexity and What to Do About It by Will Mancini Top 5 Ways to Burn Out Your Staff by Brain Kaufman 6 Tips for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney Momentum Builders for Ministry by Alan Danielson 7 Qualities of Prevailing Churches by Shannon O’Dell Why Church Hurts by Matt Appling 10 Reasons Why Small Churches Stay Small, Part 1 by Joe McKeever If We Build It, Will They Come? by Carlos Whittaker 10 Reasons Why Small Churches Stay Small, Part 2 by Joe McKeever Why We’re All About the Numbers by Steven Furtick PART 5

Worship & Creative 152 155 157 162 165 168 173 177 179 181

Cheerleading vs. Worship Leading by Glenn Packiam 4 Lessons for Managing Creatives by Phil Cooke 17 Common Worship Leading Mistakes by Marie Page How to Cue the Congregation in Worship by Bob Kauflin 10 Ways to Grow As a Creative Leader by Brian Orme Why They’re Not Singing with You by Brian Taylor Top 10 Church Sound Problems by Leon Sievers Dying of Inspiration Overload by Charles Lee The “Worship” Elephant in the Room by Brenton Brown My Two Pet Peeves in Worship by Steven Furtick


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OUTREACH & EVANGELISM 186 188 191 193 196 204 206 210 213 217 220 222 224

A New Way to Be Christian by Gabe Lyons 10 Things Every New Believer Should Know by Brian Mavis Becoming a Reproducing Church by Dave Ferguson 10 Things You Need to Know About Unchurched People by Kem Meyer 6 Common Perceptions of Christians by Dan Kimball Dealing with Evangelism Objections by R. Larry Moyer Tony Evans: Why God Isn’t Blessing the American Church by Brian Orme Top 3 Mistakes Churches Make with New Believers by Bob Franquiz 8 Reasons Why People Aren’t Coming Back by Greg Atkinson 5 Reasons Why You Should Twitter in Church by Scott Williams 7 Outreach Suggestions for Churches Meeting in Schools by Ron Edmondson Are Mass Evangelism Efforts Effective? by R. Larry Moyer 4 Keys to Creating an Irresistible Church by Greg Atkinson PART 7

YOUTH & FAMILY 230 232 235 237 239 241 243 247 252 255 259 262 266

Teen Evangelism: Motivate Your Students to Share Their Faith by Greg Stier Practical Ways to Make Your Ministry Family-Oriented by Chris Folmsbee 3 Rules for Youth Leaders and Facebook by Josh Griffin 9 Mistakes Made by Youth Pastors by Jeremy Zach 5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Irrelevant to Teens by Terrace Crawford Why Teenagers Are Not the Church of Tomorrow by Greg Stier 5 What All Youth Pastors Wish Their Senior Pastor Knew by Perry Noble Children’s Volunteers Who Don’t Quit by Jim Wideman 6 Tips to Guide Your Ministry with Parents by Dan Scott 10 Keys to an Excellent Nursery by Dale Hudson Why We Wrote Our Own Curriculum by Sam Luce 5 Ways to Help Kids Pray by Tina Houser 5 Strategies for Small Church Children’s Ministry by Greg Baird


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SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP 274 275 281 283 291 294 299 301

7 Elements of a Successful Group by Craig Groeschel Habits of a Healthy Group Leader by Joel Comiskey Train the Group, Not Just the Leader by Alan Danielson Top 10 Mistakes Small Group Leaders Make by Randall Neighbour Teach Your Small Group Members to Pray Aloud by Rick Howerton 10 Ways to Help Group Members Participate by Mike Mack Do Senior Pastors Murder Their Small Group Ministries? by Alan Danielson The Reason Your Discipleship Process Is Frustrating by Heather Zempel PART 9

PERSONAL GROWTH & LEADERSHIP: Part II 306 308 309 311 315 317 321 322 324 326 328

Grace Grows the Church by Judah Smith Tips for Leading Strong-Willed People in Your Ministry by Ron Edmondson 10 High-Impact Planning Ideas for Leaders by Will Mancini How to Listen to God’s Voice: A ChurchLeaders.com Q & A with Bill Hybels 5 Prices a Leader Must Be Willing to Pay by Perry Noble 18 Ways Leaders Ruin Their Reputations on Facebook by Paul Steinbrueck Holy Embarrassment by Mark Batterson Who’s Really Qualified to Lead the Church by Brady Boyd The Two Tensions a Leader Must Manage in Ministry by Perry Noble How to Do Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism by D.A. Carson Do You Lead with a “What If” Faith? by Steven Furtick


Editor’s Note: At ChurchLeaders.com, we’re dedicated to resourcing, equipping, and connecting a community of church leaders for greater impact worldwide. Since our launch in August 2010, ChurchLeaders.com has received 1.8 million visits from more than 750,000 readers. Our contributors include more than 500 authors from the church leader community, offering more than 10,000 articles, videos, and other free resources daily. This book is an extension of our online ministry to help leaders in all areas of the church lead better every day. The ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 covers a diverse range of leadership and ministry topics—from listening to God’s voice, serving your staff, and guarding your vision to church growth secrets, leading a successful small group, and equipping teens to share their faith. In many ways this Top 100 list was chosen by you, the ChurchLeaders.com reader. Your engagement on the site—through clicks, comments, Facebook shares, Tweets, and emails—helped us identify the top articles, most relevant features, and freshest voices for your leadership and ministry growth. Our prayer is that this book will serve as an effective tool to launch you and your ministry into a new season of high-impact leadership. Thank you for your commitment to the church, your passion for serving God and others, and for joining us in the mission through ChurchLeaders.com. I now present to you—the ChurchLeaders.com Top 100. Best, Brian Orme General Editor ChurchLeaders.com


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Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. —Francis Chan

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The State of Heart Leadership Andy Stanley

In Matthew 15:19, Jesus warned that “…out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Can you think of anyone who derailed his or her organization or career because of anything on that list? I’ll bet you can. In fact, I know far more stories of failure rooted in these issues than those resulting from a lack of competence or skill. The simple truth is that leaders who fail to monitor their hearts jeopardize their organizations. If we neglect the arduous work of monitoring what’s going on inside of us, our organizations will suffer. Look at Jesus’ words again. Everything we say and do springs from our hearts. The implications of this verse are huge for those who manage people. What’s in our hearts eventually affects our ability to lead effectively. Consequently, learning to guard our hearts is critical to our success as leaders. There are three things in particular that if ignored have the potential to create chaos in the heart of a leader and, consequently, in his or her sphere of organizational influence. The first is guilt. Leaders that carry unresolved guilt are forced to hide a part of themselves from those closest to them. They have secrets. They expend time and energy ensuring that no one finds them out because they know they are not completely trustworthy. And because they are suspect, they begin to suspect others. Their inability to trust others makes it almost impossible for them to build cohesive teams. The second enemy of the heart is anger. Angry people live as if the world owes them something—something they can never quite identify. Angry leaders are impossible to please. They attract employees that are more concerned with making their bosses happy than doing what’s best for the organization. This leads to poor decisions, eventually putting them at odds with their angry bosses, and the cycle of dysfunction continues.

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The third heart issue that can derail a leader is jealousy. Professional jealousy is understandable, maybe even unavoidable to some extent. But when it is unrecognized and ignored, it has the potential to destroy the synergy of a team. Jealous leaders measure their success by the failure of others. An organization cannot sustain momentum when its leadership is focused on how well others are not doing rather than looking for ways to move forward. Maybe most crippling of all, leaders who carry jealousy in their hearts rarely surround themselves with competent and talented people. They feel threatened. And their insecurity stifles the growth all organizations need. If you can identify with the ailments cited above, welcome to the human race. We all wrestle with guilt, anger, and jealousy at some level. That’s why we need a Savior. The good news is that through Christ we can bring these enemies of the heart under control. They might never be eliminated, but they certainly don’t have to control our lives or contaminate our organizations. If you have a secret, tell somebody. Confess. Confession eradicates guilt. Chances are you’ve confessed to God. Now go confess to the person you’ve wronged. Angry? Forgive. Forgiveness is simply a decision to cancel a debt. Take time to decipher what you think the people who’ve hurt you owe you and cancel those debts. Otherwise, you will make the people closest to you pay. Jealous? Look for ways to celebrate the successes of people who’ve pulled ahead of you. Write ’em a letter. Praise their accomplishments in public. Refuse to allow jealousy to take up residence in your heart. The writer of Proverbs 4:23 summarized it this way: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” You live from the heart. You love from the heart. And yes, you lead from your heart. So pay attention to your heart. It impacts everything you do. Adapted from Enemies of the Heart (Multnomah Books: 2011) by Andy Stanley.

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Are You an AquariumKeeping Leader? Steven Furtick

People ask me all the time how we’ve been able to see so many people come to Christ in five years. Outside of the favor of God, I could give you a lot of specifics and tell you a lot of things that we’ve done. But none of it will help you until you make a decision we made in the early days of our church. And that was the decision to be more focused on the people we’re trying to reach than on the people we’re trying to keep. As others have said, to be fishers of men, not just keepers of the aquarium. We’re not going to cater to the personal preferences of the few in our pursuit of the salvation of the many. And that includes if the few is 10 people when we’re pursuing 100. Or 5,000 when we’re pursuing 10,000. Or 10,000 when we’re pursuing 20,000. Most people and churches aren’t willing to do that. They’re keepers of the aquarium. They say they want to reach people, but in reality, they’re more focused on preservation than expansion—on keeping people rather than reaching them. They let saved people dictate style. Saved people dictate focus. Saved people dictate vision. The result is a room full of saved people, not people getting saved. Why? Because the people you’re trying to reach aren’t interested in the church that has been created by the people you’re trying to keep. If they were, they’d be coming. But they’re not. For some reason, right here is where people usually play the discipleship card. They’re trying to disciple the people they’re trying to keep. They accuse you of pitting evangelism against discipleship. But that isn’t the case. I just believe true disciples should care more about making disciples than freeze-framing the church the way it was when they

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became one. Or wanting 26 programs customized to their liking. If the mark of Christian maturity is a bunch of people who want to create a museum glorifying and preserving their personal preferences and then sanctify it by calling it a church, count me out. Some people say, “Why can’t we have both?” You can. Focus on the people you want to reach, and you’ll keep the people you want to keep. Let the rest walk. They’ll find a church elsewhere to graze. The way I see it is they’re just occupying the space of a person who needs to hear the gospel. You’ll fill their seat. And it will be with the person who needs it the most.

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There are 750 Halls of Fame in America and 450 Who’s Who Publications, but you won’t find many real servants in those places. Notoriety means nothing to real servants because they know the difference between prominence and significance. — Rick

Warren

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Why We Need to 1 Throw Out the Term “Good Christian” 2 PART

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I think it’s time we stop asking ourselves the question: “Am I a good Christian?” We live in a time when the term “Christian” has been so diluted that millions of immoral but nice people genuinely consider themselves “good Christians.” We have reduced the idea of a good Christian to someone who believes in Jesus, loves his or her family, and attends church regularly. Others will label you a good Christian even though your life has no semblance to the way Christ spent His days on Earth. Perhaps we should start asking the question, “Am I a good Christ?” In other words, do I look anything like Jesus? This question never even entered my mind until a friend of mine made a passing comment to me one day. Dan is a longtime friend of mine. In fact, he’s the pastor who performed my wedding. He was talking to me about a pastor named Von. Von has been working with youth in the San Diego area for decades. Many of his students have gone on to become amazing missionaries and powerful servants of God. Dan described a trip to Tijuana, Mexico with Pastor Von. (Von has been ministering to the poor in the dumps of Tijuana for years.) Dan didn’t speak of the awful living conditions of those who made their homes amidst the rubbish. What impacted Dan the most was the relationship he saw between Von and the people of this community. He spoke of the compassion, sacrifice, and love that he witnessed in Von’s words and actions as he held these malnourished and unbathed children. Then he made the statement that sent me reeling: “The day I spent with Von was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” Dan explained that the whole experience was so eerie because he kept thinking to himself: “If Jesus were still walking on Earth in the flesh, this is what it would feel like to walk alongside of Him!” After that discussion, I kept wondering if anyone had ever said that about me—“The day I spent with 19

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Francis was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” The answer was an obvious “no.” Would any honest person say that about you? What bothered me was not that I hadn’t “arrived,” but that I wasn’t even heading in the right direction. I hadn’t made it my goal to resemble Christ. I wasn’t striving to become the kind of person who could be mistaken for Jesus Christ. Isn’t it ironic that a man can be known as a successful pastor, speaker, and CHRISTian, even if his life doesn’t resemble Christ’s? 1 John 2:6 “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” When John made that statement, he wasn’t speaking about how to be a church leader or even how to be a “good” Christian. He merely stated that anyone who calls himself Christian must live like Jesus did. So how did Jesus live? You could make a list of character traits to compare yourself to, but it would be far more beneficial to simply read through one of the Gospels. After you get a bird’s-eye view of the life of Christ, do the same with your own. Are you comfortable with the similarities and differences? It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of “success” as American churchgoers define it. The thought of being well-known and respected is alluring. There have been times when I’ve been caught up in the fun of popularity. I’ve even mistaken it for success. Biblically, however, success is when our lives parallel Christ’s. Truth is, there are many good Christs that you’ll never read about in a magazine. They are walking as Jesus walked, but they are too focused and humble to pursue their own recognition. May we make it our goal to someday have someone say of us: “The day/ hour/15 minutes I spent with  was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” As Christians in America, we often complain about how antagonistic people are toward Christ. Personally, I’m not sure that Americans are really rejecting Christ. Maybe they just haven’t seen Him.

Try to be COMPLETELY honest with yourself right now. Is the following true of you? You passionately love Jesus, but you don’t really want to be like Him. You admire His humility, but you don’t want to be THAT humble. You think it’s beautiful that He washed the feet of the disciples, but that’s not exactly the direction your life is headed. You’re thankful He was spit upon and abused, but you would never let that happen to you. You praise Him for loving you enough to suffer

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during His whole time on Earth, but you’re going to do everything within your power to make sure you enjoy your time down here. In short: You think He’s a great Savior, but not a great role model. The American church has abandoned the most simple and obvious truth of what it means to follow Jesus: You actually follow His pattern of life. I pray for those who read this article—that we don’t become cynical or negative toward the church. Instead, let’s make a personal decision to stop talking so much and begin living like Jesus. Then we can say as the Apostle Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). My guess is that you’ve never had someone say that to you, and you’ve never said it to anyone else. Why not?

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7 Ways to Maintain Respect as a Leader Ron Edmondson

As a leader, one of your most valuable assets is the respect of the people you are leading. If a leader is respected, people will follow him or her almost anywhere. If a leader loses the respect from the ones he or she leads, it becomes very difficult to regain that respect. Often, a new leader is given respect because of his or her position as a leader, but respect can be quickly lost due to performance. Many times, it’s the seemingly small things that cause the most damage to a leader’s reputation. I have found that a few simple (some not so simple) acts help protect the respect a leader enjoys: 1. Return phone calls and e-mails promptly. 2. Do what you say you will do. 3. Act with integrity. 4. Use fairness in your approach…not too harsh… not too soft. 5. Show others respect. 6. Learn continually and encourage growth in yourself and others. 7. Work as hard or harder than others. Maintaining respect is a matter of acting in a respectable way. How are you doing in that area?  

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Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Accountability Mike Foster

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Through the ministry of Deadly Viper, I get the chance to work with leaders on personal sustainability and living a life with no regrets. And though I champion the ideas of transparency, authenticity, and brutal honesty, I don’t believe in Christian accountability. The whole concept makes me cringe, and I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment. It’s horribly broken, ineffective, and doing a lot of people a disservice. In many ways, Christian accountability is facilitating a pathway to our lives being chopped up by character assassins.  So here are a few reasons why I don’t believe in Christian accountability:

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1. Lack of Grace The primary reason Christian accountability doesn’t work is because we are more interested in justice and fixing a problem. I’ve seen too many times great men and women get chewed up by this process. When we fail, what we need most is grace and a second chance, not a lecture. We have all probably experienced or seen a harsh response to our struggles or failures. But there is a big problem when we respond with justice and not grace. You see, human beings are wired up for self-protection and survival. When we see others being hurt, rejected, or punished for their sin, we correctly conclude that it is better to hide, conceal, and fake it in the future. It basically comes down to this: I don’t want to get hurt, so I’m not telling. When we lack grace, accountability breaks down.

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Let me be frank. If I were having an illicit affair with a woman, I’m not going to confess it to four guys at a Denny’s breakfast. And yet, too often, Christian accountability is carried out in these types of environments. We meet in small 23

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groups in a weekly environment with a few of our friends. Ultimately, there is a lid on how transparent these conversations can be, and too often, we believe that if we are meeting weekly, then we are “accountable.” My best conversations about my brokenness and struggles have come in nontypical environments—places where I am completely relaxed, at ease, and feel removed from my daily life. I have seen leaders every year go away for a week and meet with a coach or therapist and have this time be very effective. They dump a ton of junk, begin working strategies in their lives, and start dealing with significant character issues. I would rather have one week of brutal honesty than 52 weeks of semihonesty at Denny’s. My point is simple. Find an environment that is going to allow you to open up and examine your current process.

3. The Results Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. If Christian accountability were a company, it would need a serious bailout. It’s simply inadequate, and the results are sub par, at best.  The breaking down of our marriages, financial impropriety, egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior, sexual misconduct, and the bending of every rule we come across are simply signs of a failed system. Last week, I read a post from a pastor who had received e-mails from 33 other pastors who confessed to him of being involved in an affair. 

4. We Game the System If I wanted to, I could spend the next decade of my life convincing you how wonderful I am and how I have it all together. (Luckily, I have no desire to do that.) It bothers me that I’m clever enough to package Mike Foster in such a way that I could make you all believe what a swell guy I am. The problem with Christian accountability is that you and I can game the system. I know how to beat it, and if you stick around the church long enough, you will figure it out, too. And that’s a problem. We’re the alcoholic that knows where the hidden key to the liquor cabinet is. Gaming the system is not hard. We know the right words. We know the right things to talk about. We know how to frame things up to effectively keep everyone off course on who we truly are. I can do it, and so can you. And that’s a big problem.

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So that’s why I’m not a fan of Christian accountability and truly believe it is busted. But please don’t lose hope. I have something I want to offer up as a replacement to this flawed system of maintaining our integrity.  First off, I want to change the word from “accountability” to “advocacy.” If we are going to redefine a process and introduce a new concept, I think it needs a new word. The word I use in this context with fellow friends and leaders is advocacy. The term can be described as active support, intercession, or pleading and arguing in favor of someone. So let’s take a look at what advocacy means:

Radical Grace Is the Foundation Radical grace is the core engine for any healthy relationship. You cannot have true transparency or confession without it. I encourage people to make verbal commitments to each other and clearly state that they will stand by one another through the best AND the worst. Most people live with the fear of rejection and allow this fear to dictate how honest they will be with others. In advocacy, we are constantly demonstrating that this relationship is a safe place. Through our response to one another’s failures, our own deep confession, and reminding each other that we are in this for the long haul, we implement radical grace.

Focus on the “Yes,” Not the “No” Too often, typical Christian accountability revolves around long lists of what NOT to do. We spend way too much time discussing and managing the sin. Often, we lock on to the most minor unhealthy behaviors and think that’s going to prepare us for success in life. Unfortunately, we operate on the faulty assumption that working on the symptoms will address the core problem. Bad idea! Advocacy spurs us on to the “yes.” It revolves around the crazy good things that we should be engaging in. It pushes us to live a life of positive risks, creativity, adventure, and significance. We rally around each other in this and focus our relationships around this theme.  I truly believe a large amount of moral blowouts flow from boredom and dissatisfaction. We become depressed and unsatisfied with our lives, careers, and marriages, and then we enter into dangerous territory. Why? Because we are not focusing on the “yes”! 

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I know that, in my own life, I become vulnerable when I have lost a sense of mission and purpose. Having an advocate in our lives is important in reminding us of our calling.

Priority on People, Not Organizations When people fail or become involved in some scandal, too often we immediately consider the ramifications on the organization or company. I’ve talked to many Christians who are very concerned about how it impacts the cause of Christ when a pastor falls.  Unfortunately, we place more concern on the damage to the brand of Christianity or the church instead of the fallen individual. I’ve seen horrific and hurtful things happen to people in the name of protecting the organization instead of the fallen person. Quite frankly, that stinks!  If you haven’t figured it out by now, Christianity’s brand is failures and wrecked lives. Churches are places with messy people who do stupid things. I’ve certainly made my contribution to this effort with my mistakes. In advocacy, the importance is placed on the individual. It is about people, especially those who are most broken. The organization, church, or company should take a back seat. 

Multi-Group Approach Christian accountability is often accomplished in small groups that are too general or with just one person leading, which puts too much responsibility on one individual.  Advocacy embraces having multiple layers of transparency and connection. I have about 10 people who are involved in spurring me on to a life of integrity. They can actively speak into my life, and I will listen and make the necessary tweaks.  However, I have a deeper connection with about four people with whom I discuss harder things. I also have more structure with this group. This is what I consider to be the core. But even beyond the core, I have one friend that has full access. We take complete responsibility for each other’s integrity, purity, and sustainability. I refer to this person as my “first call.” When the stuff hits the fan, I call him first.  I truly believe it is time to reinvent and rethink this very important component of our lives. I am deeply committed to all of us living a life of radical integrity and grace, and this is why a new discussion needs to happen around maintaining our integrity.

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People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. — John

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11 Ways You Can Serve the People You Lead Perry Noble

I read Mark 10:35–45 the other morning and made a list of 11 ways that a leader can serve people (after all, Jesus said that is how to be a great leader). 1. Adopt the mindset that these people work with me and not for me. 2. Provide enough margin for the people who serve with you to be creative and brainstorm ahead. (The pastor that works “week of” in regard to his message really does a great disservice to those who support him in regard to creative elements.) 3. Make sure that the people you serve with have the resources they need to do the job they are expected to do. 4. Say “thank you” and “great job” A LOT instead of just pointing out all of the areas where a person came up short. 5. Try your best to make sure that if an area of the church is going to be impacted by a certain decision that someone from that area had input in the decision making process. (Learned this one from Andy Stanley.) 6. Make sure the expectations for the people you lead are both spoken and realistic. (We cannot hold people accountable for unspoken, unrealistic expectations.) 7. Don’t confuse personal preferences with conviction from the Holy Spirit…if you tell the people you serve with that “God told me,” then you had better be willing to bet your last Bible that you heard from the Lord!

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8. Model what you consider to be important. In other words, when you are walking into the building and see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up. 9. Listen to them! 10. Understand that your words weigh 1,000 pounds. Choose them carefully! 11. Understand that WHAT you say and HOW you say it matters. The people you serve with are human beings with hearts, minds, and souls—they deserve to be treated as such.

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How Do We Measure Spiritual Growth? Sarah Cunningham

In the field of education, measurements are crucial. Not measuring baking ingredients or 2x4s, of course, but measuring a student’s progress. Tracking growth. This is especially important for me as I’m hunkered down at the alternative high school—the last stop for the teens of Prison City. (We don’t like to brag about it, but Jackson, my home base, houses the state prison. Please don’t be jealous.) Measuring learning in my context, like the spiritual one, is a tricky business. When it comes to internal processes—growth of the mind or the spirit, for example—there are no fancy growth charts to tack up against the wall. To keep students progressing, then, good teachers ask themselves a guiding question: “How will we know when a student is officially ‘educated’?” Or in other words, “What does a well-rounded graduate look like?” This guiding question keeps the day-to-day operations on track. At the end of the day, the week, the month, is a student closer to being “educated”? Do they look and think and act more like a high school graduate than they did before? With a million possible lesson plans to draw from, the guiding questions also help us choose the right classroom experiences. Does this presentation advance the learner toward being a graduate as we’ve defined it? If it does, roll forward. If it doesn’t, cut the fat. So the jump I’m about to make is probably pretty obvious at this point, right? How do we, in the faith arena, keep our faith fresh? How do we ensure that we continue to grow throughout life? Now, no worries, we’re not about to make a rubric for Christianity. Or advocate checking traits off a list to judge others’ faith. Clearly not the point. But I’ve found asking myself a similar question is not a bad idea. “How will I—or others—know if and when we are growing toward a more full experience of faith?” Or another way of saying it, “What does a lifelong follower of Christ—a person who has been devoted to Christ and his vision for years—look like?”

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With a million possible devotionals to read, causes to take up, and programs to implement in our churches, these are the questions that help us set our course in the day-to-day, too. Does this sermon, this focus, this new program encourage us and those we lead toward becoming more like Christ? If it does, roll forward. If it doesn’t, cut the fat. At the end of the day, the week, the month, are we closer to embodying Christ and his vision for the planet? Do we look and think and act more like Jesus? Questions like this make identity questions easier for me, too. Do I want to be influenced by and glean learning from the emergent church? The seeker movement? The house church explosion? Other Christian camps that will arise along the way? Use the question as a funnel: What do the followers of those movements look like? Are they holy, prayerful, devoted to living out the way of Christ? Or after months of walking around with them, is the most prominent result the Urban Outfitter wardrobe and retro specs? (Or the American flag tie pin and fundy hair part?) I’ll give everything I have to becoming like the first (with or without the snazzy specs). But I hope to give absolutely nothing to the latter. I’ve decided, while writing my new memoir, Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds, that I cannot afford the luxury of unchanged living. I have a feeling that anyone who claims to be following Jesus—really following him through all the places that he goes—would be different tomorrow than they are today. So it’s Christ or bust for me.

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8 Things Pastors and Leaders Should Do on Facebook Paul Steinbrueck

1. Listen. James 1:19 NIV says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Nothing could be more important on Facebook. Listen more than you speak. By listening, you’ll get to know people better and learn what’s going on in their lives. You find out who is hurting, who is frustrated, who is thriving, who is gifted in ways you never realized.

2. Pray. James 5:16b NIV tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Whether your Facebook friends post good news or bad, a success or a failure, you can always pray for them. When you do, ask God for guidance as to how to respond if at all. He may prompt you with the words to type in a reply. He may prompt you to pick up the phone. Who knows what could happen?

3. Engage/comment. Of course, if all you do is listen and pray, you’re not going to have much impact on Facebook. In fact, nobody’s going to even know you’re there. Show you care about your Facebook friends by engaging with them. Comment on people’s updates. When other people comment on your updates, reply back to them. Respond promptly to messages and new friend requests.

4. Publicly encourage. One of the best ways you can engage with people and show you care is to encourage them. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, either. Posting a

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comment on someone’s update with a simple “Congrats!” “That’s awesome!” or “I’m praying for you,” shows the person (and their Facebook friends) that you really are listening and you care.

5. Respond privately to sensitive issues. Facebook not only provides the means to respond publicly to your friends but also privately. If someone posts an update alluding to a personal or sensitive issue—their relationship status changes, they’ve lost their job, they sound depressed—in addition to publicly encouraging them, you may want to send them a private message. Not only does it give you the opportunity to say something you might not want to say publicly, but by asking open-ended questions, you invite them to open up more privately about what’s going on and how they’re really doing.

6. Be human. People are not connecting with you on Facebook so they can hear about God and church all the time. They want to relate to you as a human being. Post about what’s happening in your life. Share photos and video of your family. Talk about your other interests and hobbies. Share links to articles you think are interesting.

7. Be authentic.

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People are also not connecting with you so they can see how perfect people live. Don’t just post the good stuff that’s going on in your life. It’s OK to express sadness, anger, and frustration. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s necessary. We are all frail and sinful. People need to understand that as a pastor you are not better than they are. You are just blessed to be forgiven and have the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

8. Initiate friend requests. Some people are afraid to initiate a friend request with a pastor. After you meet someone in the community or meet someone for the first time at church, initiate a friend request with them the next time you’re on Facebook. Remember Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, so you should be hanging out on Facebook with people who are not Christians, too.

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The Problem with Pastors as Rock Stars Ed Stetzer

A lot of kids grow up wanting to be a rock star. These days, the term “rock star” is applied much more liberally than the days of heavy metal. Athletes are rock stars, movie stars are rock stars, software designers are rock stars. The rock star aesthetic has been democratized. You don’t even have to live a rock-and-roll lifestyle to be a rock star. These days, even the most un-hip of occupations can achieve rock star appeal. Including pastors. Somebody once said, “The Gospel came to the Greeks, and the Greeks turned it into a philosophy. The Gospel came to the Romans, and the Romans turned it into a system. The Gospel came to the Europeans, and the Europeans turned it into a culture. The Gospel came to America, and the Americans turned it into a business.” And business is booming. Millions of churchgoers file into buildings each week, line up in rows like shelves at Walmart, and watch the stage. They come for one purpose: to see a show and hear a pastor. This, by uncritical standards, is success. But while this phenomenon increases, I believe it can be damaging to the spiritual vitality of the American church. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying pastors who look or act cool or who speak dynamically or who lead confidently or who have large congregations are the problem. I’d have to rebuke quite a few of my friends if that were the case. And I am not against large churches. It is not the look, following, or size of the church but the culture of the superpastor that can do great harm. Furthermore, I think that any pastor of a church of any size can fall into the “rock star” trap. It is a sin issue and not just a size issue. I see four general problems with the rock star pastor, and I will propose four fixes:

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Personal Imbalance

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No, not mentally. (Well, maybe mentally.) No, the problem of balance with a superpastor-type is the distance at which ministry is done. Superpastors tend to either fly high above and lord over their ministries like detached dictators, or they try lifting too much on their own. Both of these problems can stem from an enlarged ego. In the previous case, the superpastor thinks the normal work is for ordinary pastors, and in the latter case, the superpastor feels strong enough to handle it all. Sometimes the superpastor is a passive sort who lets everyone else pass the buck to the pastor, afraid to delegate for fear of other people’s failures tainting the ministry. In the case of the “lord on high” superpastor, the leadership culture is just as toxic, because staff and members tend to affirm aloofness and enable dysfunction. In either case, the biblical view of equipping others for ministry is absent.

Hindering Community

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If the church life revolves around one person’s speaking gift, it is incredibly difficult to move to community. A community “won” to a single voice is not won to community but to spectatorship. Thus, when pastors say, “It’s all about the weekend,” they tend to create an audience rather than a biblically functioning church community. This is still true if your church is an oftcriticized seeker megachurch or your verse-by-verse preaching point. Either way, if you get thousands sitting in rows but can’t move them to sitting in circles, true community is hard to find. As a guy who travels around speaking, I understand how quickly it can happen. For the last few weeks, I’ve spoken at a church close to my own house while the pastor is on a short sabbatical. But even in delivering biblical messages, I’m not engaging in biblical community with those people. It takes more than a stage to create a community. The temptation must be fought that a mass of people gathered to hear one person speak is equal to biblical community. A gifted communicator can draw a crowd, but biblical community will sustain a congregation. A great orator is fun to have at worship but cannot build community during the other six days and 23 hours of the week. Great preaching will be used by God to bring others to faith and sanctify God’s people, but it will also encourage the body to do life together on mission.

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I’m not saying that every person in the community should have immediate access to the pastor. But I am saying that every pastor should be in some accountable biblical community. 

Approval Addiction Many rock star pastors enjoy having their egos stroked. When pastors become rock stars, it seems that they quickly learn how to strut while sitting down. But when they become the face of the church, the church becomes identified with the pastor. Thus, the measure of success is tied to the pastor’s capacity to draw a crowd, sell books, and speak at the cool conferences. The scorecard of the church shifts from faithful growth to publicity ratings. An approval-addicted pastor develops the split personality of an insecure bully. Paranoid that their reputation might be damaged by incompetency in others, the pastor resorts to pushing people around. Rock star pastors are addicted to measuring success by whether or not they get their way. Their measure of success becomes about meeting their personal needs, not submission to the mission of God. A rock star pastor is fanatical about approval, but not God’s.

Selling Out the Church’s Future You can just check the headlines. When a rock star pastor falls, the church rarely recovers. When they do, it is through extricating their identity from that of the pastor’s abilities and personality. No pastor is indispensable. It’s good for pastors to remind themselves, “Others filled the role before you were born, and others will fill it after you’re gone.” But the rock star pastor constantly needs more attendees, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers. In a twisted bit of logic, they work to make the Gospel well known through their own fame. Some have pointed to the multi-site movement as an illustration of how the church has sold out to make rock star pastors famous. Personally, I am not anti-multi-site. When partnered with church planting, it has great potential. Nevertheless, while I’m not “anti,” I do urge caution. At times, I’ve joked about “rock star celebrity pastors beaming their graven image all over the country.” If you are a rock star pastor, perhaps you believe that the church simply cannot go on without you. You would be wrong. Pride was inherent in the fall of Adam, and it rears its head whenever one person deems the church’s future to ride on their shoulders or voice. Multi-

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site, or any program, as a necessity derived from the attention needed by a rock star pastor is idolatry. So what can we do to counteract the superpastor tendencies? I think four simple ideas will help.

1. Focus on Equipping

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A lot of churches talk a big game on this issue, but few play it. First Peter 4:10 tells us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” The lesson of 1 Corinthians 12 is even more extensive regarding the usefulness of all the parts of the body of Christ. In a rock star pastor culture, only one is deemed capable for ministry. Maybe the rest of the staff can help, but they are secondary to the pastor. Only the pastor can proclaim God’s Word and shoulder the decisions of the church. It sounds exhausting. Worse than that, it sounds unbiblical. By focusing on equipping the saints, we move back to the biblical position that every believer is called to the ministry and mission of the local church. When ego is removed, the refreshed pastor can help believers fulfill their roles in God’s kingdom.

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Rock star pastors are notorious for pushing themselves to the breaking point. The stories of depression, adulterous affairs, or just dropouts each month are heartbreaking. And they should be a wake-up call. Not only should pastors take a permanent break from shouldering the entire weight of their church’s growth, they should periodically just take a break. Sure, a few pastors are lazy and spend too much time goofing off, but most rock star pastors take it to the other extreme of non-stop labor. Pushing themselves beyond acceptable boundaries, these Type-A personalities cannot stand to not be doing something. They won’t sit still. Pastors: Sit still!

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The recession has hit churches hard. Giving is down and, to adjust, churches are cutting back on programs and personnel. This is an opportunity for the church to abandon the “clergification” virus that plagues us. The mentality that only the professional clergy, especially the superpastors, can do ministry 37

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never shows up in Scripture. It is a holdover from pre-Reformation times and is damaging our ability to fulfill God’s mission. When the church relies on one or a few paid individuals to do all of the ministry, most is left unattended. Interestingly, the two-thirds world does not suffer from the malady of clergification. Not having the financial ability to pay superpastors, more believers do the work of the ministry. Pastors can lead their churches toward a better stewardship of their resources. Rather than paying staff to shoulder the load, teach all believers to minister. Instead of employing people to speak for God in the community, lead all believers to be Christ’s ambassadors.

4. Preach the Glory of God Most rock star pastors don’t mean to not preach God’s glory. But they are, nevertheless, unintentionally preaching their own. For a pastor, being “out front” is a necessity that can become a danger. Their winsomeness wins over seekers; their way with words woos the weekly attendees. Charisma is an intangible gift but deceives one’s own heart. Once when preaching, cheering broke out for John Chrysostom. He responded, “You praise what I have said and receive my exhortation with tumults of applause; but show your approbation by obedience; that is the only praise I seek.” The decline in the church, perhaps, is caused by our satisfaction with earthly appeal. We should endeavor to present the glory of God instead of the cleverness of our abilities to edit movie clips, mimic the local CCM station, or engage social issues. People can walk away from all of that unchanged. But nobody can encounter the glory of God and live the same as they did before. The glory of God is a good place to end this article. Pastors (of churches of any size) need to worry less about their status and be concerned more with God’s mission and His glory. The glory of God should be your recurring song, and with that in mind, it’s okay for rock stardom to fade out and the Morning Star to rise in your place.

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The Gift of Rejection Ben Arment

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It’s tragic how we become paralyzed by the fear of rejection. Before we take one step toward a goal, before we even try to see what’s possible, we quit because we don’t want to get rejected. In his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Work Week, author Timothy Ferris describes how he challenged a Princeton University class to make personal contact with a seemingly impossible person to reach, such as Bill Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, or J. D. Salinger. The first student to do it would win a roundtrip ticket to anywhere in the world. Timothy was prepared to pay for the trip. In fact, the rules were such that anyone could have turned in a one-paragraph response and collected the prize. But no one even attempted the experiment. Timothy explained that the students didn’t believe they could beat their classmates, so they gave up without trying.  Here’s an important lesson: Never say no for other people. That’s their job. In the pursuit of a goal, everyone has a job. Your job is to dream audaciously, act courageously, and make the ask. Their job is to say “yes” or “no.” And this is their job and their job alone. If you’re a dreamer like me, you will have to make lots of asks. While writing this piece, I’ve made asks of four influential people, and every single one of them has turned me down. It’s humiliating. So why do I persist in this self-punishing exercise? A long time ago, I learned that rejection is a gift. Let me explain. Babe Ruth is known as the home run king. He was the first player to hit 60 homeruns in one season. Some say baseball became popular only when he started playing in the 1920s. When you think of Babe Ruth, you don’t think of failure. But get this—from 1926 until 1964, Babe Ruth held Major League Baseball’s career strikeout record. He swung at a lot of pitches and never connected on most of them. You’ve got to love that. The thing that brought failure to his career was the very thing that brought him success. 39

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Rejection clears the playing field. If you can handle rejection, you’ll become part of a small fraternity of dreamers who see their ideas become reality. When you make it past your first few rejections, the field of dreamers begins to thin out. We’ve got to become people who are at ease with rejection. We’ve got to stop letting it deter us. At the risk of making a poor analogy, think about the difference between American men and Italian men when it comes to flirting with women. Italian men aren’t crushed by rejection; they accept it as part of the game. We must press through rejection, because there’s a “yes” for us out there somewhere. And the only way to find it is by sifting through all the “no”s. I run a yearlong coaching process for 30 individuals called Dream Year. One of the participants, Justin Wise, told me he wanted to attend financial guru Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership event in April 2008. This exclusive business conference hosts just 150 people in a prestigious location at a price tag of $4,000. As a young ministry leader, Justin couldn’t afford to go, but he believed there was a “yes” out there somewhere, so he decided to make an ask. He sent Dave an e-mail expressing his desire to attend but explaining that he couldn’t afford it. He asked if he could come for free. One week later, Justin received a surprising response. Not only did Dave invite him to be his guest, but he also paid for his airfare and hotel room. I wonder how many of us in Justin’s position would have said “no” for Dave before ever writing that e-mail. As we go about making asks, God will open some doors and close others. But we have to persevere in asking. We have to keep trying doorknobs. We have to test our heels on the water’s surface. Because when we press through rejection, when we sift through the “no”s, something amazing happens. Eventually, we get our “yes.” And our goal becomes one step closer to reality.

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What Makes a Great Leader? Charles Lee

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Leadership is often defined as influence. In my opinion, everyone possesses the ability to “influence” or lead others in the general sense of the word, but not everyone is a leader (i.e., someone who functions in a publicly recognized role of guiding or influencing others). I have worked with several people who influence the lives of many people but didn’t function well once given a key role of leadership in an organization and/or company. The reality is that leadership in a formal sense requires a certain set of perspectives, values, and praxis that very few are able to carry out well. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with some phenomenal leaders that are literally changing the landscape of our world. Here are a few insights I’ve picked up about what it takes to become a great leader:

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Pain Frames Purpose. Great leaders do not run away from pain but rather recognize that pain is what truly forms and informs their life purposes. It is not to say that they are sadistically seeking pain. Passion for one’s purpose is often fueled in part by one’s pain and suffering. Passion by definition is not only a reference to fervor but also the willingness to work with pain.

Collaboration Is Necessary for Creative Innovation. Leaders recognize that they cannot and will not do it alone. Every great endeavor needs a team or community to help it flourish. Great leaders move from simply wanting collaboration to needing it. In addition, they welcome voices from unrelated fields to spark creativity and refinement of purpose.

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Courage Guides Decisions. Great leaders are marked by their courage in decision-making. They rarely lean toward the popular vote. Courage implies that there is often a deep presence of fear and obstacles. Courage is the ability to move forward in the presence of fear.

Compassionate Justice Provides Perspective. No matter how tough a great leader may appear, deep inside they all care about the people they lead. Compassionate justice is a reference to a work that seeks to make things right with a posture of real care. Great leaders are leading because they feel they can change the environment or direction of something that could be better. People ultimately “follow” a leader because they sense that they have their best interest in mind, even if it means that they go against the grain.

Focus of Implementation. Great leaders don’t just talk; they do. They realize the hard work is in the implementation of their vision and courage. They don’t make excuses nor choose to sit on their ideas. They simply move forward and figure things out along the way. Great leaders are focused on implementing better. They’re not satisfied with a 30,000-foot view. They also want to see what’s right in front of them. The focus is not just greater vision but greater action. Living life as a leader is a noble pursuit. It takes a special person to move beyond the romanticized benefits of its role. Are you a leader? If so, our world needs you at your best!

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An authoritative church is very attractive, as long as that authority is used to shepherd and not to bruise. Sometimes, I have to talk to people very honestly, and that can be painful. But first, I have to make sure they know I love them. Leaders shouldn’t wield authority; they should shepherd toward truth. — Matt

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3 Unspoken Promises Leaders Make Hal Seed

Every Christian leader I know wrestles with the Romans 12:8 commission: “…If [your gift] is leadership, let him govern diligently.” How can you measure whether you’re leading with diligence? At the time of this writing, there’s a church that’s thinking about joining my church, either as a merger or a satellite. This currently pastorless church needs leadership. I believe we can provide it. But can we? More specifically, what might it mean for me to lead this second congregation “diligently”? Normally, when I invite a new staff or volunteer onto my team, I’m aware of the responsibility I’m assuming. With over 100 potential volunteers about to join my team, I’ve become acutely aware that every time I invite someone (in this case, many “someones”) onto my team, I am making three unspoken promises to them.

The Unspoken Leadership Covenant Stepping into leadership can be exhilarating. Newly minted leaders find themselves asking, “Will people follow me? Will they like me? Will I be able to accomplish anything?” Those and a dozen other questions run through their minds. Meanwhile, followers are asking an opposite set of questions. They want to know, “Is this person trustworthy? Do I want to follow him/her? Do I like where they are going?”  Underneath this unspoken exchange is a covenant that all leaders make with everyone who signs up for their cause. Like the questions, this covenant is rarely verbalized and almost never brought to the level of consciousness. But it’s there, and if you’re going to be a great leader, you need to own it and live up to it. The leader’s unspoken covenant to their followers contains three promises: 1. If you follow me, I will make your life better. 2. If you follow me, I will care about you.

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3. If you follow me, I will take you where you cannot go on your own.

When a follower decides to leave a church, cause, or movement, it’s almost always because one of these three promises has been broken.

1. I Will Make Your Life Better

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Years ago, a lady named Kelly asked me to pray that God would enable her to get pregnant. Lori and I had experienced several years of infertility, so we knew the pain she was enduring. I prayed often and fervently, but no baby. A year later, Kelly quietly slipped out the back of the church. Promise #1 was broken: I hadn’t made her life better.  It didn’t matter that I was incapable of making her life better. Only God could have repaired her reproductive organs. But a better life was the unspoken expectation. Without a baby, we had a breach of contract.  Had Kelly stayed at New Song, she would have experienced dozens of incredible events and moments with our church family. She would have seen countless marriages and families helped. She would have played a part in over 8,000 people coming to Christ. The one thing she wanted more than anything else was a child from her womb. I couldn’t give it, so she didn’t stay.  On the other hand, Ken joined the church when we were just in the startup phase. He was a young Christian looking for an adventure. Did his life become better? Well, Ken met his wife at New Song. In fact, she came to Christ here. So did her daughter. So did Ken’s sisters, and his father, his nephew, and a whole lot of friends. Ken has grown tremendously, led a Small Group, served in our Tech Ministry. Ken’s closest friends are members of the church. Promise kept. 

2. I Will Care About You Leaders often feel stretched thin, but when a parishioner is in a crisis, they expect the leader to respond. A few years back, a longstanding New Songer lost her sister to spina bifida. Her sister (Diane) and parents had been members of Saddleback Church for almost three decades. I was impressed to learn that Rick Warren delivered on Promise #2. He showed up at Diane’s hospital bed a few days before she died. He personally comforted and prayed with her parents. Promise kept. As New Song has grown, I’ve found it harder to express care for everyone who’s following. Sometimes, I don’t hear about people’s sorrows until long after the fact. But when I can look them in the eye within hours of their loss 47

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or pick up the phone and pray with them, those small acts of care go a long way toward fulfilling our covenant. 

3. I Will Take You Where You Cannot Go on Your Own One of my greatest joys is Scott Evans, a friend ten years my junior who two decades ago made the decision to follow me to San Diego and help me plant New Song. Today, he’s the founder of Outreach, Inc., a company that serves churches and ministries nationwide. He agrees that if he had stayed at his computerindustry job, he’d be half the man he is today.  Another is Jim Britts, a man twenty years my junior who has served on our staff for the past nine years. Jim’s passion is youth, and he’s got a talent for screenwriting. He recently released his first film, To Save a Life, which is changing lives around the world. Jim would have been a success at whatever he put his hand to, but with the encouragement of the New Song family, he’s achieved great things in both youth ministry and the film industry. Nothing could thrill me more. Jesus promised that if we would follow him, he would make us fishers of men. I never set out to take Scott or Jim where we’ve gone together. Christ gets all the credit. When a leader follows the Lord, there’s a good chance he or she will take some people on a few pretty cool adventures—adventures to places none of them could have anticipated. It’s one of those unspoken promises that Jesus, the ultimate leader, has made to those who follow him.

Keeping These Promises Faced with promises I may soon be making to a new church full of people, I have to speak the unspoken questions: Can I make these people’s lives better? Can I care about them all? Can I take them where they cannot go on their own? My honest answer is “no.” I have no personal power to improve a human life. On my own, I am incapable of caring for them all. And by myself, I can’t take anyone anywhere significant. Fortunately, I’m not on my own, and the Holy Spirit can do everything I cannot do. So I am confident of this very thing: that He who began a good work in the members of this church will carry it on to completion. And I will be there praying, encouraging, guiding, and caring to the best of my ability. Every church leader goes through low moments and dark valleys where they’re tempted to quit, slide, or take it easy and hope nobody notices. It’s easy to get busy and forget the unspoken promises we’ve made. I know—I’ve

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been there, thought about doing that, and even priced out the T-shirt. To help prevent this, once a quarter I go through a list of my top leaders and ask myself the following questions for each:  1. How am I making his/her life better? 2. How recently have they seen that I care about them?  3. How well am I leading them to a place they could not go on their own? I don’t always get an “A” on every question or every person, but speaking the unspoken promises, even to myself, makes me a better leader. Hopefully, it inches me one step closer to being “diligent.” 

The Unspoken Promises Made to Me Years ago, Jesus made these same unspoken promises to me. Without question, he has made my life better, cared for me incredibly, and taken me where I could not have gone myself. He’s done all of this in ways that are exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ask or imagine. As a bonus, he’s letting me do the same with others. I hope he’s doing the same with you.

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Are You Leading from the Front? Greg Stier

The best leaders lead from the front. They don’t delegate, abdicate, or relegate the heavy lifting to “subordinates.” They dive headfirst into the hard work. This is true of the best military leaders throughout history. Battlefield generals like Leonidas of Sparta, Alexander the Great of Greece, and George S. Patton of California fought side by side with their soldiers so that wars would be won. They didn’t direct and expect from the back of the battle. Instead, they chose to dive and drive into the heat of it. These warrior/leaders weren’t afraid to get mud and blood on their uniforms. They knew that these condiments of battle were the real medals of honor in the sight of the troops who followed them. But it’s not just military leaders who knew this principle. Effective political and spiritual leaders throughout history have understood this as well. Lincoln, the gangly 16th president of the United States, led the Union from the front by being a hands-on Commander in Chief. As a leader, he was immensely practical and accessible, so practical that he won the war, so accessible that he was assassinated at close range. Ghandi, the bold liberator of India, led an entire nation from the front. He marched 240 miles of dirt roads over 24 days to protest the unjust English taxes on and rulership over his beloved country. His dust-encrusted act of courage eventually helped to emancipate an entire country. The best leader of all time, Jesus Christ himself, led from the front. He boldly took on the religious establishment of his day without flinching. He stood up for the poor and oppressed when nobody else would. He challenged the stone-throwing hypocrites by protecting a scarlet-lettered woman, putting himself in harm’s way so that she could be saved. He wrapped himself in a towel and washed the dirty feet of his disciples to show them how to lead from the front. He got mud on his “uniform,” and then he got blood on it. He led the charge for the transformation of the human race by picking up his cross and dragging it to his death. In the heat of battle, he lost his life and

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won the war. He taught us how to win by losing and how to live by dying. He showed us how to lead from the front. Leading from the front is the most effective way to lead a family, a ministry, or a company. Let’s not be afraid of heavy lifting. Let’s not delegate the calluses or splinters. Instead, let us, like Jesus, fill our hands with both as we pick up our crosses and die to ourselves so that others can be victorious.

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7 Habits of Behind-the-Back Leadership Ron Edmondson

I was thinking recently about the “backside” of great leadership. Great leadership involves leaders who have matured in their approach to leading people. Leading well means that sometimes what a leader does when the team’s back is turned is more important than what they do in the team’s presence. The backside of great leadership is when a leader does what is best for the team and the organization, not for his or her personal gain. Still not sure what I mean? Here are some characteristics of the backside of great leadership. When a team member is doing good work, a great leader: 1. Protects your back when critics rise against you or your work. 2. Won’t back you into a corner by holding you accountable for unreasonable expectations. 3. Welcomes you back to good favor after you make a mistake. 4. Backs you up when you attempt to make a thoughtful decision. 5. Gives back to the team more than he or she takes from it. 6. Never stabs you in the back with others on the team or in the organization. 7. Gets back to you when you need his or her input on a decision.

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Why the Bible Is a Tough Book for Americans Don Miller

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I’m not a big fan of the “there are only two kinds of people” breakdown of humanity, and yet in the past few years, I’ve found myself wondering if, well, there are only two kinds of people. I’m not talking about people who either like Neil Diamond or don’t; I’m talking about how and why thinkers. Let me explain: We all live life asking questions, questions about how to get ahead, how to make life more meaningful, questions about how to survive or help people survive. The question how is an American question, and it rests on the presupposition that we know what life is really about. Some friends and I were walking down the street in Vancouver, British Columbia last week, and I stopped our group and asked them to look around and count the ads that they noticed. We were downtown in a major shopping district, and even though we could see for blocks, we found only two billboards or posters advertising stuff. If we’d been across the border in the States, we’d have counted, perhaps, hundreds. The difference was striking. Advertising is part of the reason we have become a how culture. Commercials make us think we need things, and then the dominant question (thus the story we end up living) is about how we get what we think we are missing, so we wake up every morning wondering how we are going to get ahead, how we are going to get paid, and so forth. The problem Christians face is that the Bible is not attempting to answer how questions. And if it is, it’s a terribly written book and not practical in any way in terms of addressing how to succeed, how to get married, how to be more sexy, how to lose weight, how to organize your finances, or how to build a business. Instead, the Bible is a why book. The Bible is answering much larger questions: Why do we exist, why do we not feel loved, why is there pain in the world, why has God left us, and so forth. Are 53

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there exceptions? Sure. Proverbs has some wisdom on how to live, and there are other examples, but they are few. So the question is, are you trying to answer small questions with your life or big questions? If you are trying to answer small questions (how do I turn Earth into heaven, because there is no greater epic for me), then the Bible fails. But if you are trying to answer larger questions (all of this will someday go away, and life is short, so what is really important in light of this) then the Bible is a book for you. American culture is a how culture. We ask almost exclusively how questions because our commercialized culture is not interested in why. If we really started asking why questions, our entire economy would collapse, and honestly, we wouldn’t care because once we answered the why questions, we wouldn’t want all that stuff in the first place. So what does the Bible say to the average American? Among other things, it says this: You are asking the wrong questions.

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Bible Use and Ownership According to the national Study of Christian Attitudes and Behavior conducted by Christianity Today International and Zondervan in 2006, 95 percent of all U.S. people who label themselves as Christians have a Bible in their home. Active Christians have an average of six Bibles. 25 percent of Active Christians bought a new Bible in the past 12 months. 57 percent of respondents say they have read the Bible, and 63 percent of professing Christians make this claim compared with 98 percent of active Christians. However, only 18 percent of respondents read their Bibles daily, 19 percent 2–3 times a week, and 39 percent once a month. Among active Christians, 35 percent read their Bible daily, 28 percent 2–3 times a week, and 37 percent once a week. Christianity Today 4/09

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Who Are You Going to Offend? Mark Batterson

One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is this: Who are you going to offend? You’ll offend somebody; I promise you that. But will you offend man or God? That single decision will set the tone of your life. Either you’ll become a people-pleaser because you’re afraid of offending people. Or you’ll become a God-pleaser because the last thing you want to do is offend the Almighty. It’s hard not to draw tremendous inspiration from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar had shown them great favor and put them in positions of authority. It had to be difficult to refuse to bow to his ninety-foot statue. He was the second-to-last person that they wanted to offend. The first? God.  Daniel 3:16 says, “…O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” It was their unwillingness to offend God that set the table for one of the most amazing miracles in Scripture. God delivered them from the fiery furnace. Who are you going to offend? You need to settle it now.

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The Foundation 1 of Leadership PART

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Scott Williams

Church Leadership

When you read a statement like “The Foundation of Leadership,” it draws out a wide range of thoughts. Those thoughts are derived from the various types of experiences you’ve had with other leaders, your leadership, and leadership in general. There are many leadership experts, authors, and professionals that define the foundation of leadership in varying fashions. I personally think the foundation of leadership is Trust—“The Trust of Leadership.” People like to trust that their leader will get it done and lead them from here to there. We can break “The Foundation of Leadership” down into two Trust categories:

1. The Team Trusts the Leader. This is one of the most important aspects of leadership, ensuring that a leader earns the trust of his/her team. Earn is the operative word; positional equity will only get you so far. In order for a leader to be truly successful, they must have the relational equity in addition to the “Trust Equity” of their team members. Integrity, genuine care and concern for the team, proven track record success, boldness, no “yes man” syndrome… are just a few of the ways that a team will begin to truly trust a leader.

2. The Leader Trusts the Team. This is probably the second most important aspect of leadership, and it’s often overlooked and very rarely carried out. When I say trust your team, that means believing in them so much that you don’t micro-manage, you get out of their way, you correct when necessary, you encourage them to lead up, you maximize their strengths, and you watch them soar. I was reading George Barna’s new book Master Leaders, and in one excerpt, this question was asked of many leaders: “How does a leader gain people’s trust?” Seth Godin

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responded:  “You have to trust them.” (That’s simple, but brilliant!) Ralph Winter added to Seth’s answer by stating this: “Trust is letting people have as much rope as they need to be sure they feel good and can deliver the goods.” Actions speak louder than words; live out trusting your people.   I’m in no way saying I have all of the answers and I have this leadership thing figured out; however, I am totally convinced that the core of leadership is based on trust. I’ve always tried to lead with integrity, care, and concern, embracing the fact that if people don’t trust you, they won’t follow you. On the other hand, I truly believe in and trust my people. I trust them so much that they have no choice but to believe in and trust themselves. If I believe my team can fly, even if they can’t, they will get darn close. Help your team to soar; TRUST THEM!

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4 Kinds of Vision 1 Idolatry PART

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Will Mancini

Church Leadership

I often remind people that I was a spiritual formation pastor before I started coaching leaders around clarity and vision. This often flavors how I see the world. Even though I have committed my life to helping leaders and ministries cultivate a clear vision, I am all too aware of vision idolatry, first and foremost from my own life. 

1. Hardness: Loving the Vision More than the People the Vision Serves On my first interview while still in seminary, an experienced senior pastor put a pie chart in front of me with three slices. The slices were marked “people,” “tasks,” and “ideas.” His question is simple, “Which one of these do you like the most?” As a budding pastor, my response was quick and confident: “People first, and then tasks.”  But some people are wired to love ideas. In fact, today I would answer the question differently with “ideas” at the top of the list. Many strategically minded leaders forge a ministry identity out of a love for people. But with success and growth, they learn to leverage their skills with ideas and tasks. The problem is when this natural ability trumps the essential motive of love and model of deep connection with others. Any vision you have is an idea. Therefore, gifted visionaries can idolize the vision idea itself, either above the God who gave the vision or above the people the vision serves. The great commandment is to love God and others, not to love the ideas that God gives you.

2. Impatience: Wanting God’s Vision on Your Timetable A God-given vision can be beautiful in an intoxicating sort of way. When a leader experiences it and knows it’s from God, it can pulsate through your veins with a

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Spirit-inspired adrenaline rush. As soon as this happens, it opens the door for a form of indulgence—a holy sort of instant gratification that, in the end, isn’t holy at all. 

3. Entitlement: Using God’s Vision as a Cover for Personal Gain We never start out in ministry with this temptation or thinking that we will ever face it. However, as a ministry grows, a subtle and unperceivable mindset forms. Entitlement happens when the leader expects and demands certain benefits and “rights” as a leader. In essence, this form of pride layers over time with each “win” in the ministry. The leader loses the instrumental identity and assumes a cause-and-effect identity with them as the ultimate cause and not God.  

4. Buzz: Allowing the Success of the Vision to Provide Emotional Sustenance This final idolatry is nothing different than enjoying the process addictions (shopping, gossiping, pornography, etc.) or chemical addictions that provide a high that you can’t live without. Being a part of a ministry that’s growing is a thrill ride with a lot of emotional benefits. This blessing can easily replace the gospel as the driving force and power center of our days. The emotional fruit of success becomes the functional savior.

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Are You Too 1 Nice As a Leader? PART

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Ron Edmondson

Church Leadership

I was talking with a leader recently. She’s an incredibly kind and gentle person. She’s smart, hard working, and loyal. She’s a relational leader and usually brings out the best in people, so she’s had success in leadership. She is currently experiencing problems in a new position and asked for my help. In talking through the specific situation, it quickly became obvious that she has one weakness, and it is currently affecting her entire team. Her weakness? She is being too nice as a leader! It has made her well liked in the organization, but it also has made her team less successful than it could be. A few team members are taking advantage of her niceness by underperforming in their roles. She hasn’t challenged the problems, even though she knows she should. She’s losing sleep over it but doesn’t know what to do. The relational leadership she has used in the past is not working with these team members. Perhaps you’ve seen this before in an organization. Maybe you’ve been on either side of this issue. If this is your situation, you have probably even thought or said things such as, “I gave them an inch, and they took a mile.” I am not suggesting one become a mean leader. I am suggesting one become a wise leader. Wisdom learns to guide people in the direction that’s best for them, the leader, and the entire team or organization. In the situation above, I advised my friend to take off her “nice hat,” at least temporarily, to address the few people causing the majority of the problems that are impacting the entire team. As hard as it will seem at first, in the end, it will be a blessing for the entire team. Here are three problems with being too nice as a leader:

It’s bad for the leader.

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The leader ends up stressing over the wrong things. Instead of worrying about the big picture, the leader is focused on a few problems with usually only a

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few people. The leader feels unsuccessful, even like a failure at times as the team achieves less than desired results.

It’s bad for the organization. The team suffers because a few people mess up the system and progress for everyone else. Those on the team who wish to do the right thing lose respect for the leader. Others will follow the example of those taking advantage of the leader and lower their performance standards.

It’s bad for the person. Enabling bad behavior is never good for the underperforming team member. It keeps him or her from identifying their full potential and from realizing personal success. They may be a superstar if they are given structure and held accountable to complete their work. Leader, have you become too nice as a leader? Are you allowing problems to continue out of a fear of not being liked? If you are not careful, you can become everyone’s friend, but nobody’s leader. The sooner you handle the problem (and the problem people), the sooner things will begin to improve on your team for everyone…and the sooner you can get a good night’s rest.

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What Every Pastor 1 Should Know Before They Start 2 PART

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Mark Batterson

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I recently received an e-mail from a pastor asking my advice: What are the top things every person should know before they senior pastor their first church? Here’s my list of the things every pastor should know before they start.

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1. Be Yourself. Even more important than being a pastor is being yourself. Be authentic. Be real. Share your weaknesses and struggles. Remind your congregation that you are a work in progress just like they are. Be true to the unique passions and giftings God has given you. Develop core values and core convictions.

2. Put Your Family First.

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I limit my church-related meetings to one evening per week. Establish those boundaries early on. If there is ever a conflict between family and ministry, it’s a no-brainer. Family first.

3. Have Fun.

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Church ought to be the most enjoyable hour of the week. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The healthiest and holiest people laugh at themselves the most. Let your congregation see you laugh at yourself. A lot.

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4. Keep Learning—Readers are Leaders and Leaders are Readers. Once you think you have it figured out, it’s the beginning of the end. There are ways of doing church that no one has discovered yet. Keep experimenting. Realize that if a 100 people give you 30 minutes of their time to listen to your sermon, your message better warrant 50 hours of listening time. Study to show

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yourself approved, and make sure you’re doing both biblical exegesis and cultural exegesis.

5. Hire People You Like Hanging Out With. How much you enjoy ministry depends on who you’re doing ministry with. Hire people you can laugh with. Hire people who love God and love life. Hire people who go the extra mile. Hire people who work hard and play hard. Hire the right people then let their portfolio conform to them like a new shoe conforms to your foot.

6. Do Recon. You’ve got to do everything within your power to keep from going into maintenance mode. Stay in growth mode. Remain an open-source system. Go to conferences and visit other churches.

7. Be a God-Pleaser. I remind myself of what Abraham Lincoln said all the time: You can please all the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time. Don’t worry about offending people. Worry about offending God. Stay true to the vision God has given you. Don’t waver when people want you to conform to their vision of what the church should be. You’ll spend the rest of your life contorting yourself and your church into a thousand shapes. Make sure you’re doing ministry out of the overflow of what God is doing in your life. Make sure you allow God to work in you before you ask Him to work through you. The church will never outgrow you! If it does, it’s dangerous!

8. Keep It Simple. Less is more. We have two goals: Plug into a small group and plug into a ministry. Don’t try to do too much. Be really good at what you do. Know who you are. Know who you aren’t. Develop a kingdom mindset. Learn to appreciate the unique role that other churches play in your community. Then play to your strengths. 

9. Paint Your Church Purple. Either you are remarkable or invisible. Too many churches are ignorable. The good news ought to make the news. You’ve got to do things to get the attention

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of your community. Do what you do with an excellence that makes people do a double take. Make sure your print materials are aesthetically pleasing. Do outreaches that bless the socks off your community. Find the needs in your community and fill them. Dare to be different. Add a touch of creativity to everything you do! 

10. Enjoy the Journey. If you’re a visionary, you’ll tend to live for the future, but enjoy the moment. Be the best pastor you can be during every stage.

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Spiritual leadership is knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power. — John

Piper

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15 Gut-Check 1 Questions for Leaders PART

personal growth & Leadership

Perry Noble

I have always found it interesting that I Corinthians 13 is sandwiched in between a chapter having to do with spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues. I know that all of us have probably heard it read at a wedding, but what if we took this same passage and applied it to our leadership? (Which, honestly, I think it was written more for church leaders and not wedding ceremonies!) Here we go… 1. “Love Is Patient”—Am I giving others the same room to make mistakes as I want them to give me? 2. “Love Is Kind”—Do the people I lead actually like being around me? (If you want to know the answer to this question, just ask yourself how much they ask to hang out with you outside of work!) 3. “It Does Not Envy”—Am I automatically jealous of anyone who has a great idea, and do I constantly perceive others as a threat to my position? (Another leader struggled with this; it didn’t go well with him—see I Samuel 18:6–9.) By the way, this is why some young leaders can’t thrive in their current conditions, because the more “mature” leader perceives them as a threat. 4. “It Does Not Boast”—Do I feel like I always need to remind people of my previous victories? (If we are obsessed with the past, then we’re not advancing toward the future!) 5. “It Is Not Proud”—Do I feel that I am the only one in the organization that has all of the answers? 6. “It Is Not Rude”—Am I always cutting people off mid-sentence as soon as I discover that I do not like their idea, or am I willing to hear them out? (People don’t always have to be right as long as they feel like they’ve been heard.) 7. “It Is Not Self Seeking”—Who is this about—really?

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8. “It Is Not Easily Angered”—Are people afraid to bring me information that is true and accurate because they know I will lose my mind and begin to yell? (Don’t shoot the mailman!) 9. “It Keeps No Record of Wrongs”—Do I remind people of their past failures or encourage them in their current condition? 10. “Love Does Not Delight in Evil but Rejoices in the Truth”—Can people be honest and open with anyone in the organization, including me? (When a leader does not have people around him who will share the truth, he becomes the Emperor who had no clothes!) 11. “It Always Protects”—Do I have the back of my staff? It’s very discouraging to work for someone who demands loyalty but will not extend it. 12. “Always Trusts”—Do I believe the people who lead their assigned areas can make day-to-day decisions without my input? 13. “Always Hopes”—Do I always automatically assume the worst or the best about people? It is amazing what can happen on a staff when the leader believes in the people he leads. 14. “Always Perseveres”—Am I quick to give up on people after they make one mistake, or am I willing to teach them through it? 15. “Love Never Fails”—Do I have a high turnover OR a low turnover in the number of people who work with me/for me? (If the number is high, then maybe it isn’t the people failing.)

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Escape from the 1 Turtle Cage PART

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Mike Foster

Church Leadership

Zoo visitors are supposed to be fixated on the animals. Yet, during our recent family trip, it wasn’t the Galapagos turtles—the world’s largest tortoises— that captured my attention. In fact, it was the cage the zoo was building for them that I found so fascinating. A sleek sign highlighted features of the coming tortoise exhibit: a state-ofthe-art barn with heated floors, specially selected cactus, and an interactive area for visitors. The project would take months to complete at a price tag of $1.2 million. Clearly, this was an impressive project. Yet, one thing struck me.

IT WILL STILL BE A CAGE. Don’t get me wrong. It’s going to be a nice exhibit. Guests will probably love it. The turtles may feel like they’ve scored a penthouse suite. But the fact remains, if the tortoises trek through enough exotic plants, they will run into a wall and a reality check. Despite appearances, they haven’t been freed. They’re just being confined behind fancier bars. The turtles’ scenario prompted me to reflect on my own situation. Over the course of my life, I too have sunk energy and resources into upgrading my cage. I’ve slightly improved my social or financial condition. I’ve worked to ensure things that represent me—my appearance, job title, the way I carried myself—pleased others, outdid those around me, or at least kept me even with the next guy. Along the way, I imagined I was moving closer to being free. But a few steps in, I’d slam into reality; I hadn’t found freedom at all. I’d just increased the personal pressure to perform at a higher level, to achieve greater numbers, and to be accepted by the right people. I’d dressed up my weaknesses and imprisoned myself behind fancier bars called “success.”

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If anything, my “improvements” often made my journey harder. I ended up with more to prove, more image to manage, and more anxiety about the future. Unfortunately, all of this soured the warm feelings I was actually chasing. And in the end, what we will find is the same truth the turtles did: You can’t experience real freedom while imprisoned. So how did I escape my turtle cage? How did I free myself from this paralyzing system that I was trapped in? The key that unlocked my cage was grace. When I clearly understood who I was in God’s eyes, I was freed. When I found my identity in how he saw me, the prison doors miraculously opened. My value wasn’t based on my performance, success, or how many followers I had on Twitter. I found no pleasure in the typical benchmarks of leadership success and was truly at peace with being loved and wanted by him. So how does this play out practically in my life? Well, over the past few years, I have worked very hard at becoming a “person of no reputation.” I’ve discovered when you give up your reputation, you don’t have to spend so much time and energy defending and proving it. For most of my adult life as a leader, I used my skills to create cover-ups to hide my failures and dysfunctions. The problem with this plan, of course, was that maintaining a publicly acceptable version of Mike Foster became my full-time job on top of my actual full-time job. Over time, this became one too many full-time jobs. In hiding my weaknesses, I eventually realized I had been denying something really important: the real me. And as much as I hate to admit it, the less desirable parts of myself are still me. In fact, those traits are just as much me as any of my strengths or accomplishments. Trying to cut free of my flaws, then, was no more logical than trying to saw off a broken arm. Sure, a broken limb isn’t necessarily pretty or fully functional but, with some healing, it still holds potential to contribute. Good or bad, it’s still connected to the whole; it’s still a part of the story. Becoming a person of no reputation has allowed me to risk more, take greater pleasure in my work, and to discover true community with friends and team members. So what about you?

CHURCHLEADERS.COM


You know it is never too late for any of us to escape from our turtle cages. Maybe your first step is to become a person of no reputation. Or perhaps it means getting on the phone, swallowing your pride, and healing a messy relationship. Your escape might involve you overcoming your fear of failure and pursuing a new venture or job. Maybe it means saying words we’ve never said before, refusing to dwell on our checkered past, or simply beginning to tell the truth of who we really are. Each of us knows what issues we’ve been dressing up, the fancy bars we’ve installed to imprison ourselves. I’ve decided I’m through upgrading my cage. I’m taking a jackhammer to its walls and setting out after real freedom.

1 PART

personal growth & Leadership

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 PART

Church Leadership PART

preaching & teaching PART

Church growth PART

worship & creative PART

outreach & evangelism PART

youth & family PART

small group leadership PART

personal growth & Leadership PART II

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Long Distance Leadership Brady Boyd

Can you leave your church for the weekend and not fret? Can you not show up one Sunday and the worship services continue? Are most Sundays built around your charisma, your strengths, and your talents, or can someone different than you lead a weekend service? Do you have to be at every public gathering so people will feel the meeting is important? I believe the real test of a leader is not so much when they are up front but when they are away and someone on the team is leading. Too many churches are built around one set of spiritual gifts and around one personality. The healthiest churches I know have empowered a diverse group of people to lead so that many spiritual gifts and many perspectives can be on display to the congregation. This is one reason I have not embraced the video campus model, and instead, I am experimenting with another pastor leading a Sunday night campus who preaches my message live instead of asking people to watch me on a screen. There is nothing wrong with the aforementioned model so I am not challenging the leadership of many of my friends who do this at multiple campuses. What I am saying is there is another option that may work just as well. My model is messier, requires a lot of relational equity with the campus pastor, and demands loyalty and trust from one another. But in the end, it allows me to mentor young communicators and helps build our fellowship around a multitude of gifts and personalities and not just one. I am still the primary leader, and I have final say on the sermon topics. We preach the same main points and use the same Scriptures, but a team is formed, and many players get in the game. This is just one way I am purposely leading New Life while purposely staying away from many of the gatherings. I want to lead, at times, from a distance.

CHURCHLEADERS.COM


Have you empowered people around you to lead, or does everyone look to you to oversee every gathering? Are you preaching in your own pulpit more than 48 times a year? If so, can I suggest you immediately begin mentoring your replacement, because unless you are spiritual Superman, you are headed for burnout. Step away and lead from a distance. You will find rest for your soul, and the church will get to feed from a buffet of teachers and not from just one menu item. Your team will rise to the challenge, and your church will become healthier than ever. Try it for a year and let me know if I am right or wrong.

1 PART

personal growth & Leadership

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 PART

Church Leadership PART

preaching & teaching PART

Church growth PART

worship & creative PART

outreach & evangelism PART

youth & family PART

small group leadership PART

personal growth & Leadership PART II

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Leadership Insights & Tips from Today’s Most Influential Church Leaders! From the fastest-growing online resource for church leaders, the 2012 ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 features the year’s most popular and helpful articles, ideas, and how-tos from leading voices in the church. Whether you are a pastor, lead worship, work with young people, reach out to the community, or lead a small group, this year-in-review collection will encourage and challenge you and your ministry team.

TOP 1OO The ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 gives you insights and guidance from:

Become a more effective leader with help from this one-of-a-kind leadership resource! ChurchLeaders.com offers more than 10,000 articles, how-tos, videos, and other free resources with more than 500 contributors from the church leader community.

2012 Edition

And many more…

TOP 1OO

Andy Stanley on why leaders must guard their hearts Kevin DeYoung on what really makes a church grow (and what doesn’t) Bill Hybels on hearing the Spirit’s whispers Francis Chan on not being a “good Christian” Perry Noble on serving the staff and volunteers you lead Craig Groeschel on the elements of a successful small group Thom Rainer on the secrets of healthy churches Tony Evans on why God isn’t blessing the American Church Greg Stier on equipping teens to share their faith Steven Furtick on the benefits of risky leadership


Top 100 Sample - Church Leaders